Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Cutscene Stupids (and what games could do instead)

So, a typical Cutscene Stupid:

You're playing a Rogue-type. You're sneaking around in stealth mode so that no enemies can get the drop on you. You enter a new room.

Suddenly control is taken away from you. The game turns off your stealth and marches you blithely forward into the center of the room. A bunch of enemies come out and surround you. There is a long, non-interactive conversation where the villains posture about how great they are and you click through in frustration, not paying much attention, just wanting to get back to your character.

Finally, control is given back to you and you begin a boss fight, annoyed.

How can it be done better?

***

First possibility, making the pre-fight dialog not a cutscene. Imagine the scene like this instead:

You sneak into a room full of pillars with an altar at the far end. As you approach the altar, you step into some sort of sensor or trap and you are detected. The doors to the room slam shut, blocking escape. The Villain appears in front of you, laughs, and starts talking.

Every time he speaks, you have the option to reply (possibly in multiple ways) or to say, effectively, "#*)% you" and start the fight right away. However, when that dialog box comes up, you can still move your character - on a timer. If you move too far away from the villain or if you fail to answer for more than X seconds, the fight starts immediately. But if you're careful, you can take a few steps, answer, take a few steps, answer - all the while moving yourself to a more advantageous position.

So you carefully back away, looking frantically to both sides as you try to keep the conversation going, looking for an exit, something you can use... finally, you're just far enough, and you jump to the side, dodging behind a pillar. The villain roars in outrage and combat begins - but you're out of Line Of Sight and can engage stealth again! The villain's first shot splats harmlessly against the pillar you're taking cover behind!

This is much more cinematic and makes the villain dialog less pointless - if you have to reload and go through the 'cutscene' again, it's not a total waste of your time, because it's actually part of the fight.

***

Second possibility, intertwining dialog and combat. Talking can be an actual combat tactic. Asking the villain questions, insulting him, relaying information to him to try and change his mind about things - all of these could serve to either DISTRACT the enemy, allowing you to get in a better hit, or PERSUADE the enemy and actually end the fight via diplomacy. Fighting diplomacy. You may have to fight to keep yourself alive long enough to make him listen to you!

Again, this is more cinematic. Hero and villain in movie are likely to be talking WHILE hitting each other with swords, rather than only before and after.

2 comments:

xenovore said...

Some great ideas!

miruki said...

I agree, those are some decent ideas.

I wonder why it's never the game developers that have those? ._.