A lot of developers these days keep pushing for their games to be seen as 'cinematic experiences' by throwing in all of these fiery explosions, big set-pieces, and elaborate cutscenes. But at the same time, other games can include all of those, but leave it all up to the player's discretion (or luck) whether or not they want to partake in something like that. I've got a story as to what got me thinking about this, but I'll put it in spoilers since it does take up some space (no actual spoilers, though).
So, I'm curious as to what all of your opinions are on the matter. Do you like scripted events, do you hate them? Would you rather everything be left up to your actions? Any reason--or good stories--as to why your prefer one over the other, or like both equally?
Good question. I prefer non-scripted.
Just Cause 2 for example, is a huge sandbox that still manages to be slightly cinematic.
It's essentially an over-the-top 80s action movie gone wild.
Sure the story isn't great, but the gameplay is chaotic fun.
Scripted is definitely useful if done right.
I thought Half-Life 2 did this fairly well.
It's a cinematic game, told from a first person perspective.
And while it may feel a bit like a movie at times, it never really takes too much control away from the player.
They both have their place and so I can't really tell you which one I prefer...
There are plenty of games that I love that are built on nothing BUT set-pieces. The Call of Duty series and Uncharted series are the two best examples of this. However, set-pieces allow for almost no replay-ability for once the piece has gone off, it's not going to ever change.
There are also plenty of games that I love that have NO set-pieces at all (or minimal; I suppose technically everything in a game is a set-piece but we'll go with the big epic stuff like Nukes going off and ships tipping over). Open world games like Skyrim and Assassins Creed are great examples of this. However, for every big "holy fuck did you just see that!?" moment, there are about nine others where nothing special really happens.
Gun to my head and I HAD to choose one, I'd go with set-pieces. I like games that take you for a ride and give you a story. Set-pieces are great ways to do this. It's not impossible without them but it takes a crafty developer to pull it off.
I like scripted set-pieces. Pretty much all my favorite games (Mass Effect, Dead Space, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Alan Wake etc) all have oodles of cinematic set-pieces.
When done right they add more to the story then they take away.
I feel this holds true even for open world games as well.
I loved Assassin's Creed and Red Dead Redemption because they had a powerfully told story through big events, less so Skyrim which focused a bit too hard on "do everything" and forgot to tell an exciting tale through the characters you meet and events you participate in.
That said, I do think games to need to hold onto the dynamic gameplay element. So I'm not for 100% scripting, scripting should be used when the situation calls for it.
Scripted have their places, but a lot of the times I want to control what's going on. I'll always remember the second time I went to Markharth or whatever in Skyrim for the first time (meaning it was the first time I visited the city on my second playthrough)
Instead of letting the murderer succeed, I waited for him to draw the blade and rushed up and slit his throat. I didn't think it would work, but the game let me and I got a slightly different story because of it. I loved that. So many times I'm forced to watch something happen in scripted events that I, as the player, would never have allowed to happen if I was still in control. The most recent one is Dead Space 3. Get. Off. The. Damn. LIFT! You cry the entire time you're on it, then when it stops, instead of jumping off and hugging the ground like anyone else would in your position, you take your time. Idiot.
Now, if the scripted events are cool or just fun to watch, then okay, I like them. But lately they seem to be game developers' way of preventing the player from doing something that the player could normally easily do.
I really have no preference. As tippy said, if you hold a gun to my head and I had to answer honestly, I would get my head blown off. So don't do that. I love moments like you describe OP, but I also like when a game can offer a decent pace at similar encounters through scripting. Moments you described are rare in a game without scripting because we players not only take caution to avoid such a desperate gambit, but developers are also designing games to make sure acts of desperation are rare. (Lots of ammo available left around by unknown people, "hosptial" bills only cost the equivalent of $1.00, etc.) When you add those together we players are darn near unchallengeable even if you play like me and will actually handicap yourself in non-scripted games.
Non-scripted games have bad pacing issues usually due to the environment being so darn rich with loot. A major flaw I find in sandbox/open-world games is their economy goes down the toilet because they make the player a millionaire... but everything costs 1-10 dollars. So why bother becoming a millionaire? Actually, a lot of times the stuff you find is as good as or better than the best stuff vendors sell. So why bother putting money in the game at all? Overall, any real sense of progression is lost because in non-scripted games, nothing is worth anything.
Scripted games however pull away from personal ambition within that universe. I am offered a rich universe but I have to explore it on the rails set in front of me. They may have forks in the roads but they all lead to the same place usually. Which basically make your choices lose value. Some completely take away that option entirely making your perspective on the world worthless.
In the end, non-scripted games make progression lose most of its weight due to offering way too much to the player too easily. However, scripted games make your perception of your current situation lose weight sometimes even reducing it to zero requiring you to guess the developer's perspective instead. Both are strong where the other is weak.
I am finding Max Payne 3 to be a perfect example of scripted and non-scripted gameplay going hand in hand perfectly. You've got a few sections where Max pulls some action movie stunt like slow-mo shooting while on a zipline and stuff like that.
Then there's those moments where you decide to dive through some glass, shoot some goons then hopefully your momentum will carry you behind that cover so you aren't lying in the open.
Then you misjudge the jump and crash headfirst into the glass and stop dead without getting a shot off. The chance for legendary fuck ups are endless in MP3.
OT: It would really depend on how many setpieces a certain game decides to throw at me. I hate all the CoD crap because that is literally 100% of the entire single player. I might as well go and find an LP and save myself £40, if I actually still bothered with CoD games anymore that is.
Whereas a few setpieces sprinkled around is awesome when they are pulled off well.
Literally, Max Payne 3. Play it.
While scripted moments have their place, I vastly prefer emergent gameplay.
Too much of either can be a bad thing. Too many scripted events can make you feel like you're not really in control, and too few can leave the story or even the gameplay with little direction.
Iunno...I feel if you're gonna have a scripted event, it better be fucking huge and it better thrill and most of all I wouldn't want to have more then a couple of them in a game, especially in an open-world game.
Some of my favorite moments come from unscripted moments in games like Far Cry 3, GTA IV or the magnum opus: Just Cause 2.
Variety is the spice of life.
I enjoy both.
I'd say I like both of them when done right, but lately games need more unscripted sequences. Devs tend to be falling back on scripted events because they're much easier to design.
I like both. Scripted for Story, unscripted for playing. Scripting in general play isn't too bad if it isn't too intrusive, but too much of it can really strip away the fun and make it feel really 'railroady'; likewise, unscripted sections are fantastic for playing with, but whatever story happens during those moments is usually of my own imagination.
And, as much as I love the idea that there's a third faction in Farcry 3 made entirely of tigers who work to liberate bases, it doesn't have anything to do with the actual story line what-so-ever and only exists because I watched the third base in a row get taken out by strategic tiger attacks while I was fucking around.
Variety is the spice of life.
I enjoy both.
Although I'm going to vote "scripted" out of pure spite.
Cool unscripted moments rarely happen and often feel unreal due to the limitations of in-gameplay animation and the fact that the game world can never react to them in a convincing manner.
Fully scripted scenes on the other hand can feel forced and unengaging.
Presumably a perfect game would make use of both.
I like my share of scripted moments, but unscripted takes the cake. The scripted events in CoD 4 blew my fucking mind when I first played it, but they never really compare to unscripted moments in Planetside 2.
Picture it. I ran around a rock away from enemy fire and I'm face to face with a tank as a medic. Seeing no other option I decide to jump onto it to avoid having a hole blown into me as it was turning my way. Out of the corner of my eye I see my brother running up with a launcher and fires it at the tank. I jump off just in time to see the tank blow up and still be able to limp away. All while this is playing in my head.
Assuming the game is real-time, I think I prefer non-scripted more often.
Before I was neutral, but then came Bioshock and Call of Duty 4.....
Then came Metro 2033 which made me hate them.
"Hey dude, I see you're unlocking the door but do you notice that hole right there? I mean some monster could jump out of that.....You know like the monsters we've been fighting for the last hour? Dude......I'm serious."
Non scripted is the preference, I don't mind having a cinematic conclusion to an awesome fight but the pinnacle for me would be for the entire thing to be playable, and no I don't mean getting glossed over with dog shit known as QTE.
I like scripted sequences this generation, but I'll be quite disappointed if the next generation doesn't shift the focus more to emergent gameplay.
I feel that "I like both equally" conveys a different meaning than "I don't have a preference", if only because it feels less apathetic.
So yeah, I'm half and half. Most open world games can't hold my interest, but some of the most hilarious things ever can come out of breaking a scripted event in a non-scripted way.
For example, near the end of Assassin's Creed III you're doing a chase sequence and there's a barrel on a pier that explodes as you run by it. One attempt as I ran by it, I happened to have Connor jump in the air right as it exploded, and the subsequent explosion sent him flying all rag-doll into the water.
And I've been going back to Banjo-Tooie lately and playing Beyond Good & Evil for the first time. While they're ultimately linear games, there's certainly something to be said about how little they actually interrupt the flow of gameplay once they get going.
For cutscenes that involve set characters, and need their interactions to be shown, or exposition, scripted I think is needed. For the majority of cases I prefer non-scripted, and I DEFINITELY prefer not to be taken out of gameplay just to see a building collapse.
I went for both have their roles, but this shouldn't be taken as both are equally applicable.
Some may call this is a cop out, but I enjoy a bit of both. I like having me some freedom, I enjoy partaking in making crucial decisions, or simply choosing what to say and how to someone.
But also, scripted events, as pointed above, stuff like explosion/interactions can be conveyed through scripted.
I think Deus Ex stroke a pretty good medium.
Scripted set-pieces have their purposes. They can help tell a story that otherwise could not be told in a normal game environment.
Both serve to unthrall the player if done right.
Though scripted events can sometimes feel a bit more cheap and obnoxious. Like the developer doesn't have faith that audiences will enjoy themselves with the actual gameplay, so they feel the need to grab your attention with awesome stuff going on in the background, or have the "awesome" be forced onto you as a way to cordon you off.
As long as they don't shove my face in it too much, I'm good.
I just finished the new Tomb Raider a couple of days ago; the story's occasionally questionable and most of the characters didn't need to be there, but when the game just let me play, it was fine. But then it would shove me into a cutscene where something dumb would happen, or a QTE, or one of those scripted things that isn't technically a QTE because there are no button prompts (but it's still a QTE because your choices are reduced to "press X now or insta-die"), and then it ignored me when I told it to go fuck itself. So that wasn't great.
My position is that games are meant to be played, not watched. The whole point of a game is interactivity; without that, you might as well be watching a movie. A game that's telling a story may need certain things to happen at certain times, but a good game should be able to pull that off without the player feeling like the developer just walked into the room and slapped the controller out of his/her hands.
They both have their place - anything story-driven needs some scripted scenes to keep focus on the plot, but too many scripted bits and you might as well just be watching a movie.
Getting the perfect balance is the trick.
I muchly prefer emergent, non-scripted gameplay. Sure, it makes cool action sequences a rare occurrence, but when they do happen they feel genuine.
The Halo games used to do this really well. The gameplay in the early Halo games was all about using the AI, weapon design, vehicles and such to allow the player to create their own action sequences. Each time you played, things would be a bit different, and there'd be the potential for something crazy awesome to happen. Multiplayer, this was the case even moreso. I've lost count of the number of awesome things I've done in Halo 2's multiplayer, simply because the gameplay mechanics were free enough to allow me to pull of different combinations of awesome actions. Or just as awesome, I've actually been killed in awesome sequences which I couldn't help but feel were awesome.
Stalking through the Coagulation map, only to see a Warthog crest a hill above me, blow up, and it's flaming chassis career into me like something from a Die Hard film.
Accidentally sticking a plasma grenade on a Warthog as it tries to run me over, causing it to kill the person trying to kill me, and somersault the Warthog right over me in a perfect flip, landing on its wheels directly behind me.
Sniping someone whilst jumping off a ledge, or from a moving vehicle.
While I can enjoy scripted sequences, I much prefer games which give you tools, then charge you with making your own amazing sequences. It just feels 100% more awesome when you do so.
Variety is the spice of life.
I enjoy both.
pretty much. Execution is more important to me than form.
If a game wants to do either, they just have to do them well.