A Quick Time Event By Any Other Name

Kenjitsuka

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"Well, if triple-A games stay the way they are now, Youtube is going to be absolutely flooded with videos of people all doing the exact same fucking thing, aren't they? More so than it usually is, I mean"

Youtube BETTER get a filter option you can permanently enable to get rid off all footage which has "PS4 Share button" as the video source!
 

mjc0961

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Nov 30, 2009
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Agreed so much on when they don't do anything to let you know that a cutscene has ended and gameplay has resumed except for killing you character's dopey ass for standing there too long. I also hate when you can't tell that gameplay has stopped and flowed right into a cutscene, and I don't notice until I try to do one thing and the character does something else.

That was at least the one (and only one) positive thing that using prerendered video instead of the game engine for cutscenes had: you could tell when you were playing and when you were watching due to the change in graphics quality. It is nice that we've gotten away from the need for prerendered bullshit, but now it's time for developers to learn to use their game engine made cutscenes responsibly. We need to know when we're playing and when we're watching, and "oops you stood there too long and died" isn't the way to go about it.
 

Scrustle

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I used to be really against QTEs, for many of the same reasons that Yahtzee and others have pointed out, but recently I've been noticing myself playing them... and not really having any problem with them. Even enjoying them, to at least a certain extent.

I've been playing Metal Gear Rising, Bayonetta, and Vanquish and they have a hell of a lot of QTEs. They haven't at any moment had me feeling like the game is being cheap or arbitrary. I can't think of any way how plenty of these QTEs are different from the usual "press X to not die" thing, but I haven't had a problem with them. I've even had the same thing with KoA: Reckoning wit its much less spectacular use of them.

But when I try to think of games which have had QTEs which I didn't enjoy, I can't think of anything that's recent at all. Dante's Inferno is a big one, but that game was crap in general. I didn't enjoy them in the Ninja Blade demo, despite somewhat enjoying the normal gameplay. Did Enslaved have QTEs? I can't remember, but I feel like it did and that they were bad in that. That game felt very restrictive with the amount of freedom you had in general.

But regardless, I haven't really had a problem with them recently, and it's been a while since I've even played games which featured them prominently. Even then, it's hard to think of many examples.

That said, when I see footage of games with QTEs like in Tomb Raider and such, they do look pretty bad. Like the one where Lara is scrambling up out of a cave and you have to mash the shoulder buttons. That just seems really silly.

So I don't know what to think. Is there really anything different about the QTEs in the games I've been playing recently? Or is it that I only disliked them because I thought I was supposed to, or because I was playing games that were bad in general? And what if I'm only put off QTEs I see in games now because I'm not actually playing it? I don't know, but either way I think there's something missing. It's not really as simple as "QTEs = bad", and the reasons why some people say that some QTEs are okay and others aren't don't seem to be holding much water in reference to my actual experience.
 

Bad Jim

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Yahtzee seems to think that video games should capitalise on this 'interactivity' nonsense at the expense of exquisitely crafted movie action sequences.

I find his stance rather odd.
 

Quiotu

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QTEs are fine, as long as they aren't done that often. He picks on Tomb Raider, but it was all but lifted from the Uncharted series, and that series was smart enough to tone down QTEs almost completely by the third game. God of War and the Naruto games are much more guilty of this than any other series. Then you have TellTale's Jurassic Park game which did everything wrong, and then there's the game Asura's Wrath... which was one giant QTE but was so over-the-top cheese I've come to enjoy it as the illogical extreme of the QTE.

It still has its place, but devs can't just shove it in to make scenes interesting. Players are over them today, and most find them to be the cheap tactic they are now.
 

Doctor

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Actually, demos aren't used very often because they cut down your sales, often by about 50%. The reason is quite simple; After playing the demo many people are satisfied, as in they had their cut of the game. They know what it's like. And sometimes players think the demo sucked, so they won't buy the game. At other times, they just kinda forget about it. It's not interesting (enough) anymore. A trailer keeps people in the dark, you don't really know what to expect yet when you'd actually play. This creates curiosity and to satisfy that curiosity people will buy the game... Unless they played a demo.

I guess I could have phrased that a little better, but that's the basic idea.
 

Yuuki

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But I have a question - what about games like Spec Ops, which are more about telling a story than anything and the interactivity is boils down to nothing more than shooting people? Anyone discussing Spec Ops around a watercooler is going to describe the same action sequences where the only difference is which part of the enemy's bodies they tended to shoot at the most.

See I too agree that Tomb Raider could almost be considered in the same category as Heavy Rain with the amount of directed sequences where you just press buttons. But I also see what the game is aiming to do, it's not trying to be a sandbox and it's not trying to be a Skyrim-style game either. It's just trying to tell Lara's story of survival as directed by the writer, and at least it's got a decent length (10-12 hours).
 

Baresark

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The above mentioned QTE's have managed to be in games I like and games that I despised. RE6 had these issues and I thought that it ruined the game. But really, it's just a lousy game. I enjoyed Tomb Raider, but did feel the overall amount of these things detracted from the game, but it wasn't ruined by them. They can be an OK tool, but I'm inclined to agree that they result from the overall laziness of the developers. As others have mentioned, they are actually fine when the context is player choice or to tell a story. We'll go with The Walking Dead on this one. All the action was expressed through QTE's, but it was more about making choices and living with them.
 

hermes

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To me, the worst example of QTE are the Resident Evil 4 (onward). They come without a clue, are easy to miss, are an instant game over and force me to replay entire sections of the game. And the absolutely worst part is that they are totally uncalled for... standard cutscenes will sometimes trigger a button prompt that has nothing in relation to the action and forces me to play it fast or die. To me, cutscenes are moments where I can rest the controller and enjoy the show, which I can't do if the game forces me to be suspicious that a sudden button prompt will swiftly reset my advance. Its the equivalent of a MK game having random prompt during fatalities, and failure means the other person wins the fight.

At least games like God of War has QTE that are (for the most part) triggered by the player. We have a huge red button on top of an enemy and we know it means an interactive, short movie is about to be triggered.
 

hermes

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I don't think trailers are the reason for more QTE... Designers just want certain parts of the game to look cool, and it is difficult when the chances of the hero making a somersault over a stunned enemy followed by a shotgun to the face are a lot slimmer of him walking on the spot in front of a wall; but they often use professional level gameplay or segments of proper cutscenes to make trailers, not QTE.
Doctor said:
Actually, demos aren't used very often because they cut down your sales, often by about 50%. The reason is quite simple; After playing the demo many people are satisfied, as in they had their cut of the game. They know what it's like. And sometimes players think the demo sucked, so they won't buy the game. At other times, they just kinda forget about it. It's not interesting (enough) anymore. A trailer keeps people in the dark, you don't really know what to expect yet when you'd actually play. This creates curiosity and to satisfy that curiosity people will buy the game... Unless they played a demo.
I have seen that reasoning a hundred times and I guess its statistically correct, but I guess I just don't belong to that segment.

To me, trailers are nice, but I would never buy a new game (especially not a new IP) unless I had a clear idea of how good the gameplay is, which I only get from demos. I understand making demos is hard, in many ways, but I could count several games this generation alone that I wouldn't have considered until I played their demos... trailer (especially non gameplay trailers) tell me very, very little about a game.

Games are really expensive around here (like 3 times the price of USA), and actually being able to get the feel of a new game is almost required to getting my interest.
 

Doctor

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hermes200 said:
I have seen that reasoning a hundred times and I guess its statistically correct, but I guess I just don't belong to that segment.

To me, trailers are nice, but I would never buy a new game (especially not a new IP) unless I had a clear idea of how good the gameplay is, which I only get from demos. I understand making demos is hard, in many ways, but I could count several games this generation alone that I wouldn't have considered until I played their demos... trailer (especially non gameplay trailers) tell me very, very little about a game.

Games are really expensive around here (like 3 times the price of USA), and actually being able to get the feel of a new game is almost required to getting my interest.
I understand your statement as well, especially when games are that expensive. And of course, demos and trailers have different effects on different people, that makes sense. I also get tired of trailers that show little to no game play, as Yahtzee once said, it feels like there's something the developers want to hide from me. All I tried to explain is why there might not be so many demos as before. It sucks for the players, but it's a win for the developers.
 

GodzillaGuy92

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hermes200 said:
I don't think trailers are the reason for more QTE... Designers just want certain parts of the game to look cool, and it is difficult when the chances of the hero making a somersault over a stunned enemy followed by a shotgun to the face are a lot slimmer of him walking on the spot in front of a wall; but they often use professional level gameplay or segments of proper cutscenes to make trailers, not QTE.
Maybe, but when a game has to resort to QTEs simply for the sake of "looking cool," that's indicative of a serious problem on the behalf of both the game itself and the mindset of its developers. Much as Yahtzee cited Just Cause 2 as an example of a game with the confidence to sell itself mostly on direct footage of its gameplay in action, I'd point to the Portal trailer [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TluRVBhmf8w] as an example of a game whose trailer quality is dependent upon the game's quality (imagine that) and succeeds wildly for it. The second half of the trailer is nothing more than clips of the player either completing required in-game tasks or simply messing about with the gameplay, and both parts of the experience remain engaging, even for one watching the trailer instead of playing the game itself, because the gameplay is good enough that anyone playing it will be even more engaged. That's the one quality above all else that any game should possess, because if a developer needs to crowbar in a QTE, scripted setpiece, or restrictive cutscene purely for the chance to make itself seem impressive, it's a good indication that the actual gameplay is failing to do its job.

What makes this even worse is that many developers aren't doing this out of any conscious effort to address their games' shortcomings; they do it because they want the games to be cinematic, out of a misguided impression that this is automatically a good thing for a game to be. They're too blinded by their aspirations to "equal" an entirely disparate artistic medium - which is no better inherently than their own medium to begin with - to play to video games' strengths. If they instead concentrated on the right things, the existing obsession with "looking cool" wouldn't be an issue in the first place.
 

Edguy

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Totally agree about "click X to not die"-QTEs, but I'm kind of conflicted about the Mass Effect cutscenes. I kind of like how they are an optional way of either being cold or compasionate, or just being passive, but on the other hand.. I usually like to grab a drink or a snack during cutscenes, so..
 

Casual Shinji

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Darth_Payn said:
I believe I remember when the QTE's yahtzee mentioned in the column were new and fresh. I think the old Tomb Raider games had sequences where you slide down steep hills a lot, with the "go-there-before-something-offscreen-kills-you" mechanic in place. Now, with game technology more complex, programming them is more complicated, so they're just sticking with what worked before.
Wait, Resident Evil 4 had a bunch of QTE's, and Yahtzee claimed that game as the best of the series.
I think he's railing mostly against scripted events that force you down a path and restrict your control for the sake of the cinematic experience.

The QTE's in Resident Evil 4 and God of War were generally finisher moves and dodges. And while RE4 did a have a good deal of "press X to not die" cutscenes, it was one of the first games to try this. And looking back at it this was a bit annoying. But the gameplay itself never felt restricted by QTE's or scripted events.

Triple-A single player games seem to becoming more and more like themepark rides, where your only purpose as the player is to shut up and keep your arms inside the vehicle while awesome stuff happens around you.
 

elvor0

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I don't know why everyone seems to hate QTE so much, I mean the latest tomb raider they were done right, they had a prompt come up before hand to tell you one was coming to give you some decent time to react, I mean if the writer wants a certain cinematic element to be imposed in a scene, there's only so many ways they can do it through game play, otherwise things become too bloated and you end up with elements introduced that are then thrown away instantly.

Sometimes games ain't /just/ about making your own experience, sometimes they're the writer wanting you to experience a story, if the writer wants a specific thing to happen there, and the best way to display that is a cinematic with QTEs then so be it, so long as they're implemented well or give you some sort of warning that they're coming, I shall continue to have no beef with them. Sometimes I want to experience a rigid story, sometimes I want free for all exploration, is that so bad?
 

Holythirteen

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Uncharted 2 had the worst scripted-escape-sequence thing at the end. You run across a bridge and halfway across it the camera flips to the other side to better show you the bridge collapsing behind you, except when you get to the end you have no idea where it wants you to jump. If you don't jump towards the right-hand side of the bridge towards something that is completely off-screen you die.

It had a similar sequence earlier in the game where the building you are in is falling over and if you're not in the right 5 square foot area of floor at the right time you die.

To be honest I don't mind these sequences, they are both exciting and cinematic in their way, but they lose that quality after the first attempt. They could make them piss-easy to avoid that, but then they might as well make them non-interactive sequences and quit acting like they're fooling anybody.
 

Arcane Azmadi

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It's funny (and also sad and depressing) but when I originally played Shenmue (the game that basically reinvented the concept for the modern gaming age) QTEs were fresh, creative and exciting. Of course, Shenmue was meant from the beginning to be the first REALLY cinematic game (which still had real gameplay, unlike Dragon's Lair and the like) so yeah, Seinfeld Is Unfunny [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeinfeldIsUnfunny] I guess. Mind you, I DID get really frustrated with the introduction of QTE combos in Shenmue 2 because it took me ages to get used to the timing on them- I fluffed the first one in the game, which is OK because you can continue on after missing it with no real penalty, but the next one resulted in me failing an important cutscene which I had to replay... and replay... and replay... and replay until I FINALLY got it right.

Damn I miss Shenmue...
 

Kargathia

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Yuuki said:
But I have a question - what about games like Spec Ops, which are more about telling a story than anything and the interactivity is boils down to nothing more than shooting people? Anyone discussing Spec Ops around a watercooler is going to describe the same action sequences where the only difference is which part of the enemy's bodies they tended to shoot at the most.
Actually, I'd bring up Spec Ops as a prime example of how to handle these set-piece moments.

Multiple forced decisions by the game are semi-hidden, and fully controlled by existing game mechanics.
Off the top of my head I can think of four different examples: "Save CIA agent / remain stealthed"; "Shoot civilian thief or military murderer"; "Disperse lynch mob"; "Kill Konrad, or let him kill you".

- The first one is a rather straightforward and unremarkable event which is mostly notable because it lets the player choose between how to progress the mission. It still involves a cut-scene, but multiple other games (ex: ME) would've chosen to continue the cutscene, and involve a pop-up QTE for the choice on whether to intervene.

- The forced choice between the civilian water thief, and the military murderer is the one that impressed me, even though its concept is simple. You can choose to shoot either one of them, and the game will continue as planned. But there also is the third option of trying to take out the snipers before they kill either one of them. Both will die, and Konrad will express surprise at you being obstinate.
Allowing for a third option (or options) that isn't immediately obvious, but fully supported as "choice" is a relatively simple way of making binary events much more involved than deciding whether to hit button A or B.

- The decision of how to handle the lynch mob that just killed your comrade is something that in terms of overall game design is the same as the previous: the obvious choice is to shoot them, but there actually is a secondary option, ie. shooting in the air, which will do the job just as fine.
Again, in terms of game design it's exactly the same thing as last, but it gets a honourable mention because of its emotional involvement of the player. Realising you didn't have to shoot them is probably one of the more powerful statements a game has ever made about the involvement and responsibility of the player. And it's done in what essentially is a QTE with your left mouse button.

- The final choice about whether to live or die is - once again - pretty bog standard game design, but allows quite a bit of water-cooler discussion by virtue of just how loaded the decision is.
Admittedly, it's not something that is helped in any way whatsoever by a dedicated "share" button, but of the top of my head I can think of several major discussions to be had about that particular decision.

These are examples of Spec Ops' decision to have its cake, and eat it anyway. It are rather rigid events where player input is reduced to a bare minimum, but it compensates for this removal of depth in some other way. (well-built story/ morality implications, non-obvious additional choices)
And in the end, the main problem with QTE's and scripted events pretty much comes down to that: they take away the depth of the experience by reducing possible player input to the bare minimum.
 

SpinFusor

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Scrustle said:
Metal Gear Rising, Bayonetta, and Vanquish and they have a hell of a lot of QTEs. They haven't at any moment had me feeling like the game is being cheap or arbitrary.
Vanquish actually did them pretty well. Usually something happened in combat, and suddenly Sam would go into "time to kick some ass" mode: a short cutscene at the end of which you would do the QTE. It felt like a bonus "super-move" the game would toss you in certain situations, and was never hard to distinguish from a story cutscene. Plus, they weren't -too- easy to miss/fail, and didn't usually kill you, anyway.

It did have a QTE sequence at the end that was annoying, though.