5 Things To Do If You Use Cutscenes in Your Video Game

Pyrian

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Scow2 said:
Often, better scene staging/mood setting.
You obviously get more camera control, but that doesn't necessarily lead to improvements. Take DX:HR's two infamous cutscenes. They take control from you, and what do they do with that control? They make "you" an idiot. Better if they'd stuck with what they're good at. You take a team that's good at FPS staging and suddenly give them a new perspective, the most likely result is they'll be clumsy with it. Or, worse, you give your cutscenes to another team entirely, and it almost inevitably sticks out like a sore thumb.

Scow2 said:
And the ability to just get on with the action on replays.
This is a common shortcoming of the "player controlled cut-scene", but not a necessary one. There are two obvious solutions: (1) Don't stop the action in the first place, involve the player all the way through, and/or (2) go ahead and allow them to skip it anyway.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I've always thought Final Fantasy VIII did cutscenes really well. They weren't too long, and they served a purpose. Introducing a new character or showing an important turn of events. I still say the intro and the part where Squall and Rinoa run in the foreground while the battle rages in the background are two of the greatest cutscenes ever.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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The cinematography one is huge, I think. I am always impressed at how flat, lifeless, and dull every single video game cutscene is. You'd think they would have learned something over the years. Of course, I prefer no cutscenes at all but if you must, at least do it right.
 

Owyn_Merrilin

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Clive Howlitzer said:
The cinematography one is huge, I think. I am always impressed at how flat, lifeless, and dull every single video game cutscene is. You'd think they would have learned something over the years. Of course, I prefer no cutscenes at all but if you must, at least do it right.
The cinematography thing is also why leaving the camera control in the hands of the player is such a bad idea for a scene where two characters are sitting around and talking. If it's a cutscene where the character is running through a hallway as stuff explodes or something like that, by all means, let the player control it, because at that point it's not a cutscene so much as gameplay. But scenes that just advance the story? Shamus said it himself, the average person knows jack shit about cinematography. So why give them control of the camera?
 

Nurb

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Yea, for all the hot air over "cinematic" as a buzzword to cover for a number of mistakes, shotcuts, and ignored features, game developers are mostly awful at creating movie-like cutscenes.
 

troqu

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Allowing the player to wander around and stuff during conversations their characters are supposedly having is more weird than forcing them to sit still and watch it (as always allow skipping of course). People get really pissed off and annoyed when you aren't giving them your full attention, wandering around the room during a world changing conversation and looking at the plants or whatever would just make a real person furious and their not reacting that way would remove my suspension of disbelief in the quickest manner possible.
 

K12

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I've gotta say I preferred having completely non-interactive cutscenes in the later Assassin's Creeds to the technically-not-a-cutscene-because-you-can-walk-about moments in Assassin's Creed 1. I think the fact that you can move draws more attention to how overly written and looooonnnnnngggg those sections are.

I do agree with the general point though, especially with silent protagonists.
 

Evonisia

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loa said:
You have to wait until doctor whatshisface opens the door for you, until claptrap has made every single last lame joke so you can finally get to the game and of course, that skyrim intro tho.
God I'm having Skyrim PTSD now, every time I try to get in to that game I stop because I'm so thoroughly bored by that horrible unskippable intro.

Flames66 said:
You know what should be in every game with Cutscenes, but I can't remember ever actually seeing? The ability to pause during a Cutscene. That should be standard by now.
I think I remember Halo Wars doing that, but then I'm left without any other examples to mind, and I definitely agree.
 

Owyn_Merrilin

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troqu said:
Allowing the player to wander around and stuff during conversations their characters are supposedly having is more weird than forcing them to sit still and watch it (as always allow skipping of course). People get really pissed off and annoyed when you aren't giving them your full attention, wandering around the room during a world changing conversation and looking at the plants or whatever would just make a real person furious and their not reacting that way would remove my suspension of disbelief in the quickest manner possible.
Exactly. That scene in Half Life 2 where Barney and that scientist are discussing the teleporter is a perfect example. They just keep talking, while you're hopping on the table and breaking stuff. They might chastise you, but it's a quick sharp word and then they just carry on, while you continue to break things. It's a lot more ridiculous than a regular cut scene.
 

JohnnyDelRay

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Evonisia said:
Flames66 said:
You know what should be in every game with Cutscenes, but I can't remember ever actually seeing? The ability to pause during a Cutscene. That should be standard by now.
I think I remember Halo Wars doing that, but then I'm left without any other examples to mind, and I definitely agree.
I'm quite sure I've seen pauseable cutscenes in a number of games now, just not off the top of my head. Or if not pause, at least able to press Start/Esc to go to the menu while you go grab something to eat before the cutscene starts. This should be staple by now, just as much as being able to skip them.

I mean, even the one point about accidentally skipping can be alleviated, games like Evil Within and Far Cry 4 you have to actually hold a button down to skip I believe.
 

f1r2a3n4k5

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For me, the most unobtrusive cutscenes either:

1. Occur within "acts." Example, in Halo where you seen things happening, but you are "in transit" from one point to another (not on this level, not on the next one.) I feel like they did this best in the first one and got progressively worse.

2. Have some story-reason to take away game-play controls, such as being restrained as Half-Life does a few times.
 

Username Redacted

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Evonisia said:
loa said:
You have to wait until doctor whatshisface opens the door for you, until claptrap has made every single last lame joke so you can finally get to the game and of course, that skyrim intro tho.
God I'm having Skyrim PTSD now, every time I try to get in to that game I stop because I'm so thoroughly bored by that horrible unskippable intro.
I've played Skyrim through 4-5 times. I've started numerous test runs for various mods. I've seen the cutscene in question exactly once. Yes, there are a lot of design issues with Skyrim but in all likelihood if one of those issues has bothered you enough to not want to play the game odds are good that it's bothered someone else enough to make a mod to correct for it. In the case of avoiding the opening cutscene you'd be looking for 'Alternative Start - Live Another Life" which provides a multitude of different starting options and allows other mod authors to tap into it in case they come up with some new starting point for the game that the original author didn't think of.

With regards to the article there needs to be a '5b' which would state to kindly not put unskippable cutscenes before (likely) obnoxious and/or difficult boss fights.
 

FirstNameLastName

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Honestly, any designer who makes unskippable cutscenes before boss fights ought to be taken to GDC and put in stocks for all the world to laugh at. It absolutely baffles me that people think this is acceptable.
Pyrian said:
loa said:
If it doesn't stop gameplay, you usually can't skip it.
True. And as a designer, you don't want people accidentally skipping your cutscene, especially if it includes vital information. So what's a good solution? Maybe just press escape, lol.
I've never understood why accidentally skipping the cut-scene is still used as a defence of the indefensible (making them unskippable). Just make it so you need to hold a button down for a short period and the problem is removed entirely. I've heard of games that also make you press multiple buttons, or press a button twice in quick succession.
 

Amir Kondori

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Pyrian said:
loa said:
If it doesn't stop gameplay, you usually can't skip it.
True. And as a designer, you don't want people accidentally skipping your cutscene, especially if it includes vital information. So what's a good solution? Maybe just press escape, lol.
There is an easy solution to that. First, you get the prompt, "Do you really want to skip this scene", to give the player the ability to back out if they accidentally skipped. I have accidentally skipped a cut scene I did not want to and wished this feature had been implemented. I know I have played games that did give me the opt out chance.

The second solution, and hopefully you provide both of them, is the ability to go to the menu and play any previously watched cut scene. That way I can go always go back and watch later if I get interested in the cut scene as I play more of the game.

Easy solutions to that issue. I think designers know to implement these, they just don't think a player should or would want to skip that beautiful cut scene they spent all the time and money on. Heck, sometimes they are even right, the first time I watch it. What about the second, third or tenth? Skippable cut scenes are a MUST.
 

RedDeadFred

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May 13, 2009
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Thought I should mention that this article, on the front page, is currently called "If 5 Things To Do If You Use Cutscenes in Your Video Game." May want to take out that extra If at the beginning seeing as it's the first thing people see when they come to the front page.

As for the actual article, the biggest one for me is letting me skip the cutscenes. One of my favourite mods for Skyrim is the Live Another Life mod since it lets you skip that opening cutscene.
 

Vault101

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can I just say THANKYOU for being one game person who doesn't think cutscenes are the devil and can actually acknowledge their good points? I mean don't get me wrong when they go bad theyre bad but there's no need to throw "the baby out with the bathwater" so to speak
 

Fasckira

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This is also fantastic advise to apply to tabletop roleplaying, relating to scenes where NPCs may have the lead dialogue between each other. Great work Shamus as always!