Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cutscenes +

Originally Posted by Orthae:
I would love to have been in that bar, lol. Also, if I think I understand, I could finish a "quest" or something and have Admirl Janeway (for lack of a better candidate) come to me or contact me wherever I am and either complete the quest or give me something else to do.

Am I understanding another aspect of this?
You got it exactly.

The question is, what's an interesting and technically feasible way of rewarding the player for completing something important within the game that also serves as a transition to the next challenge?

Traditionally, computer games have relied on pre-rendered video sequences for cutscenes -- you'd kick back and watch the light show. That's not entirely a bad thing, as it gives players a chance to catch their breath after what's usually a pretty intense action segment like a boss battle.

Sometimes it also delivers story information that might be inappropriate to provide within the regular action of the game. For example, as part of the story a key event might happen in the capital while you're out solving a problem on the frontier. You, where you are, couldn't personally see it happen, so the information is delivered as a video cutscene.

The thing is, in a game where the story is important, there'll be some players who'll enjoy watching the cutscenes to glean as much narrative/relationship information out of it that they can. But in a game that's more about action, the kinds of people who naturally gravitate to such a game aren't all that interested in narrative -- they want to jump right back into the action, which is what they bought the game for.

And yet even an action game, if it has any story at all, might benefit from using a cutscene after a big showdown, but there's no point in making it something that most player will whack the Escape key to avoid.

Which is why I'm thinking that something more dynamic than a pre-rendered video segment might be effective. A semi-scripted NPC interaction could mean all kinds of behaviors, from talking to fighting to escaping to defending and so on. Something like that would be active; it would be a break from the intense gameplay just completed; and it could communicate valuable information about the story ("No, Luke... I am your father") or the gameworld ("The knowledge you seek can be found by superimposing the three maps that display the Sigil of Sigmund").

Information, story, and action. What's not to like?