My Take on Pre-Rendered Cutscenes.

Neotericity

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May 20, 2009
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I grew up with titles like Warcraft 2, Baldur's Gate, and Starcraft/SC-Brood War. All of these titles featured a slew of cinematics. As a young kid I enjoyed playing these games, but didn't always master the mechanics well enough to actually finish them. With the lack of Youtube, I cheated my way through all of these games just so I could actually see every cinematic and make it through the story. These short, but awesome scenes would help capture my imagination and gave further imagery into these respective universes. These scenes give the player an opportunity to see these wonderful universes actually in motion, which I believe ultimately makes for an increased amount of immersion.

However, this was back when graphic fidelity had a greater disparity between the game and the cut-scenes themselves. As far as where these modern-era cut-scenes are concerned, it's almost become a case by case basis. I still believe they can hold a place within video games, but to see developers delve away from working them into the actual plot of the game. Whether it's an opening cinematic or a marketing tool both of these can help capture the audiences into these universes. But like anything it can be done wrong as well. They can stray too far from the actual game (a lot of these scenes are generally outsourced), which can confuse the consumer about whether or not mechanics presented within these scenes are actually in the finished product. The other detrimental factor would be spending too many development resources on these beautifully rendered scenes and releasing a broken or unfinished product. However, if the developer has a sizable marketing budget and doesn't do more than exaggerate present mechanics within the game that makes it A-OK in my mind.

Neo.
 

Joseph Harrison

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Apr 5, 2010
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I prefer cutscenes in games to be kinda like what Mass Effect 3 did a bit and apparently Dead Space 3 did as well where the camera just zoomed in, the UI disappeared and the cutscene started. I feel like prerendered cutscenes should not be in the game because I want to play the game not watch a movie. I feel like prerendered cutscenes are fine at the starting of a game like the Dawn of War games of in trailers otherwise I prefer cutscenes that don't break immersion.
 

dessertmonkeyjk

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Nov 5, 2010
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^ What he said. Also, pre-rendered cutscenes that were made using the actual game engine instead of doing it real-time I find to be rather puzzling. I can understand why the beginning of Mass Effect 2 did it (alot) since most of it was predictable and Shepard never took his helmet off. In other cases, this made no practical sense to me at all.
 

Neotericity

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May 20, 2009
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Yup that's basically where I stand as well leaving them as marketing tools or opening cinematics not to plug into your plot.
 

skywolfblue

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Jul 17, 2011
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I love pre-rendered cutscenes. They're not suited to every task, and they can be done wrong. But when someone like Blizzard does them right they're simply beautiful.
 

Dryk

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Dec 4, 2011
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Between the low-resolution and the jarring disconnects (changing clothes, guns etc) pre-rendered cut-scenes the way they're usually handled end up doing more harm than good.
 

shrimpcel

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Actually the cutscenes in Starcraft II (which is related of course to the games you played when you were young) were really good, well done and helped further along the story.
 

Neotericity

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It might be the fact that it's an rts as well, hard to characterize tiny miniatures. That's more of a singular example.
 

an annoyed writer

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Jun 21, 2012
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I don't mind them. In fact I kind of like them when they're done particularly well, like whenever they've appeared in the Halo series. They generally were pretty consistent with the rest of the games they were in, since their art direction lined up well with the rest of the games' content. Halo 4 is pretty notable for having cutscenes that are so photorealistic that one could mistake them for live action on first sight, generally leaping the uncanny valley pretty competently. Halo War's story simply would not work as well since the realtime models are so tiny and have low polycounts for the reason that there needs to be a lot of them onscreen at once. Trying to animate those into cutscenes would look like some kid's poorly animated lego stop-motion series: in other words, not very good. So yeah, prerendered cutscenes still have their place in gaming.
 

Twilight_guy

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Nov 24, 2008
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I'm against cut-scenes in games in general. When you're not actually playing your game and are instead watching it becomes a movie. If people want to make movies they can make movies, but if your making a game then adding some gameplay to your cut-scene should be a minimum assumption. Half Life managed to add a minimum amount of gameplay by letting you walk around during cut-scenes, is it really so hard to add something that actually makes your game continue to be a game rather then temporarily becoming a movie?

Cut scenes should always be rendered in engine in real time. Why? If you compare a pre-renderd scene to an in-game shot froma modern game (not a movie, just regular old gameplay shot) the two look remarkable similar. The per-render one is better but it's not like photo-realism vs. pac-man, not anymore. Yet the per-rendered one takes thousands and thousands of times longer to produce, usually hours or days for 20 to 30 minute movie, while the engine is render at real time all the time. For the now relatively minor boost in quality, making a per-rendered scene is insanely more expensive. It's like paying twice as much for a car that has a bigger cup holder and brighter front lights. it was a good idea when actual gameplay looked quiet rudimentary but we've improved on that now.
 

Smooth Operator

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Well pre-rendered stuff always has the ability of far greater quality, but it still means you have to make that greater quality happen which is something most devs don't do at all, so you then throw away the only upside to that approach.

And it's equally stupid to try and do up the nostril camera angles when your game has shitty models/textures/animations, know your fucking limits and work with them.
 

Yopaz

Sarcastic overlord
Jun 3, 2009
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When done right they are amazing. Done wrong they are annoying.

I just saw one that gave me shivers, that scene turned the game from great to awesome.

With cut scenes in general it depends on if they are well made or not, it depends on their length, if they can be skipped, if they present qte. Anything done well got the potential to be awesome.
 

FFP2

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Dec 24, 2012
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If it's done right then it's an great way to show stuff that wouldn't be capable in-engine. If it's a pre rendered cutscene every 5 steps then it does take it's toll on me. Looking at you FF13.

That cutscene when you first enter the Archlytte Steppe was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen though.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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Twilight_guy said:
If people want to make movies they can make movies
Trying to thrust gameplay into every element of gaming is very much like insisting narration happen in every scene of every movie. Video Games have become an interactive media with a wide range of applications, to the point where their name is somewhat of a misnomer. Somewhat. There is no one media approach that applies to all scenarios and while you could easily add gameplay to any cutscene, it's like saying you could add a guitar solo to any piece of music. It's not necessary, and will often end up being downright awkward. Even if, like me, you loves yuo some good guitar work.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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Joseph Harrison said:
I prefer cutscenes in games to be kinda like what Mass Effect 3 did a bit and apparently Dead Space 3 did as well where the camera just zoomed in, the UI disappeared and the cutscene started.
This.

This, so very damn much.

I like to rag on Dead Space from time to time, but one thing DS2 did absolutely perfectly was the cutscene integration. None of that gmaplay-fade-to-black-then-cutscene bullshit. Just smooth, nigh on seemless transitions from start to finish.

As far as I'm concerned, it's either that or no cutscenes at all. Any other approach is for amateurs or frustrated wannabe movie directors.
 

Alfador_VII

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Nov 2, 2009
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Fluffythepoo said:
Anyone who doesn't do cut scenes like blizzard is wrong
Blizzard are pretty great with them, in Starcraft II they manage to blur the line between pre-rendered high-quality FMV, pre-rendered using the game engine, and real-time in-engine scenes. It's often hard to tell which type they're using.

World of Warcraft does similar things, except they only use full-quality cinematics for the intro (also used for TV ads). In game, they have several pre-rendered cutscenes using the game assets, as well as many sequences created in real time, often with your player character taking part in them.
 

SnakeCL

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Apr 8, 2008
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I actually quite-like the pre-rendered cutscenes in Halo 4 and Spartan Ops, and I'm not usually one to like stuff that isn't in-engine. Maybe its the quality? Not sure.
 

Rip Van Rabbit

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Apr 17, 2012
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I'd say it depends on how well it's implemented into gameplay.

I like to be treated to a cutscene after a particularly tough boss battle, since it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
However, it can become tedious when it becomes constant loading + cutscene + loading + *finally* gameplay.

The new DmC Devil May Cry had seamless integration from pre-rendered cutscene to gameplay which added to the sheer spectacle of the game. (On PC at least, I can't speak for the console versions.)...Although infuriatingly I haven't found a way to skip cutscenes when playing it again. Looks great the first time, but it gets old quickly.

Taken a step further, I much rather prefer Dead Space 2's gameplay integrated cinematic moments. You always felt present in the action and it really helped to raise immersion and keep the flow of the game steady.

All in all, I suppose I'm divided on the issue, it all just comes down to proper implementation.